Posts filed under ‘Research’

Young Consumers And This Year’s Holiday Spending: Are They Like Their Parents?

“The economy has scared me a bit, so I’ve cut back on spending all of my money. Instead, I have saved about 40% of it, so I’ll have something to fall back on later.” – 17-year-old girl from New York.

With the economy tanking, how will that impact the spending behavior of kids, teens, twenty-somethings?

Even though it is in the inherent nature of teens to do the opposite of what their parents tell them, they will likely follow step and spend less this holiday season. They really have no choice – for two reasons.

First, since their parents may be cutting back on allowance to conserve cash, young consumers are likely to have less to spend. Second, young consumers who usually have regular income from a job are likely to be earning less, if anything at all. When companies cut back on employment, jobs for teens and young adults are often the first to go.

That said, the downturn should not freeze spending entirely this holiday season. In fact, young consumers will continue to spend on their favorite items – technology is still at the top of the list. Young consumers will place an even greater premium on value and they are likely to allocate fewer of their precious dollars to others and focus more on themselves. The question that remains, however, is what happens once they have quickly gone through their savings? This will be the first time that a generation who has grown up in the economic boom years, will have to answer this question.


November 18, 2008 at 8:02 pm Leave a comment

The New Coming of Age: It’s Taking Longer

One of the unintended consequences of providing kids with a broad range of experiences and opportunities is that they are often way overscheduled. In grammar school, middle school and high school – when parents are still managing their lives in one way or another – burnout, irritation, or rebelliousness can be the fallout. But what happens when these same hyper-scheduled kids go off to college and start making all of their own decisions?

Our recent research with college-age young adults does not paint a pretty picture. Consider the following:

§ College-age adults report that their biggest challenge is balancing schoolwork and their social lives. Finding the right mix is an ongoing struggle, but it’s particularly taxing in their freshman year. That’s when students realize that they alone are responsible for themselves.

§ Students at large state universities say it is easy to get overwhelmed with student activities, classes, and social commitments.

§ Lack of time is a persistent worry. Students are constantly preoccupied with allocating enough time to their responsibilities and commitments.

All of these issues are present throughout college, but they shift as students advance through school and become more adept at time management. The lifecycle of college maturity typically follows this path:

§ First-year students often struggle with the newness of the college experience – trying to learn study habits, fit in, meet friends, and manage homesickness and the new dynamics of relationships with their home and college friends.

§ Second-year students most often grapple with the same basic issues, and try to make up for lost time during their freshman year.

§ Students in the third through fifth years worry most about their major and whether they have chosen the “right one.” They are beginning to worry about life after college – and all of the challenges that brings.

§ About the junior year in college – in spite of all of the pressures – students begin to appreciate the protective bubble which they inhabit. A certain nostalgia starts to set in as students recognize that the future is even more challenging than the present.

For marketers, reaching college students is actually much harder than when they lived at home. Untethered from the structure of home life, college-age young adults are elusive and erratic. While social media remain a very good channel in reaching them, marketers also need to go where teens are. That means more on-campus events and more creativity in presenting a compelling offer. With money tighter for both themselves and their parents, frugality and value are also very appealing.

To reach this over-scheduled generation, it’s clear marketers will have to think differently to appeal to this moving target.

October 15, 2008 at 6:35 pm Leave a comment

Frugal is the new hip

For tweens, teens and twenty-somethings, the economic downturn truly hurts. In this environment, a demographic formerly flush with cash is now doing with less – or with very little at all. Why? In bad times, part-time work – the gigs most often done by these young adults – go away. Or, unemployed adults muscle them out. At the same time, parents are tighter with allowance money.

Lean spending budgets are a novel experience for many. But true to form with Flux Gen, a demographic accustomed to continually adopting and advancing to new things, they’re being more resourceful. This group is still full of wants, but is ironically behaving like their value-driven parents. Want a new iPhone? Look on Craigslist or eBay. Interested in Call of Duty IV? Try swapping with a friend or looking for a used copy. While the mall is still a destination for social gathering, it’s less appealing as a place to acquire the latest techno bling. Brand new is too expensive. In today’s economy, the new cool is getting the same for less. Frugal is hip.

What’s that mean for marketers? Challenging times for sure. But in this environment, marketers with clear brands that resonate need to stay the course. This, too, shall pass. Most importantly, they need to make sure their brand is real, both presentation and in value. If not, tweens, teens and twenty-somethings will see right through it.

September 8, 2008 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

The Five Drivers Of Teen Buying Behavior: What Marketers Need To Know (Part II)

The remaining three drivers:

3. The message needs to be simple and clear. Teens are accustomed to ease. In their world of technology, everything is at the touch of a button. Marketers need a similar approach. If a marketing message forces a teen to work too hard, or if the pitch isn’t readily digestible, it will fall flat. That’s not to say it must be boring. Rather, it has to be straightforward – and wrapped in an interesting, engaging package. Otherwise, teens will tune out and won’t see the messages being aimed at them.

4. Technology is everything. Other products – jeans, skateboards, skis – are all interesting, but they don’t dazzle and truly excite. Because technology is the focal point of teen existence today – technology is what generates heat. With technology embedded, ordinary items can be magically transformed from also-rans to must-haves.

5. Portability is king for these Technomads. The iPhone is a runaway hit among teens because it is the perfect digital jackknife – phone, texting, music, videos, camera, and web. It’s everything the modern teen needs, with the added bonus of coming in a fashionable, mobile package. Apple’s brilliance is that it squeezed the entire living room experience into the palm of a hand.

July 28, 2008 at 7:21 pm Leave a comment

The Five Drivers Of Teen Buying Behavior: What Marketers Need To Know

Welcome to the GTR Consulting Blog. The goal of this forum is to create a thought-provoking dialogue among marketers about the best way to approach kids, tween, teens, and twenty-somethings –

So what’s the best way to start understanding a market of consumers that can confound even the best marketers? By realizing that today’s teens are the ultimate moving target. Since adolescence, their lives have been a continuous process of adopting and integrating socially impactful technology. To succeed with this unique demographic – increasingly known as The Flux Gen – marketers must understand the five fundamental drivers of the teen psyche and buying behavior.

1. Cool looking technology, or Technobling, is the new badge item. Teens demand style just as much as functionality. Any product marketed to teens must have both. As one 16-year-old boy told us in a focus group, “You don’t want a girl to see you using a lame, old, ugly-ass cell phone.” Gucci, Christian Dior, Chanel – not to mention Nike, Microsoft, Disney, among others – are already hip to that fact.

2. It’s got to be ultra customizable. Teens have a need to personalize almost every aspect of their lives. They’ve come of age in a democratized world that celebrates individual identity. FaceBook, NikeID, cell phone ring tones, Xbox 360 faceplates all provide an opportunity to apply a signature touch. Customization is a way for teens to exert a modicum of control in a world that’s out of their control.

Next Week: Part II outlines the remaining three Drivers of Teen Buying Behavior.

July 17, 2008 at 4:00 am 1 comment


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